The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt, & Nubia.

From drawings made on the spot. With historical descriptions by the Revd. George Croly, LL.D. Lithographed by Louis Haghe.

London: F. G. Moon, 1842-45 Stock Code: 132530
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Bringing the Middle East to life for 19th-century Europeans

First edition, with the plates in the proof state, of "one of the most important and elaborate ventures of 19th-century publishing... the apotheosis of the tinted lithograph" (Abbey Travel); no publication before this astonishing work had presented so comprehensive a series of views of the monuments, landscape, and people of the region.

The proof issue was sold at the higher price of 1. 11s. 6d per part compared to 1 1s. for the regular issue. The proof plates were printed without captions and with the half-page plates on a separate sheet, resulting in less encumbrance on the artwork.

This copy was almost certainly bound at an early stage: the title page to the third volume and the "Map to Illustrate the Route of David Roberts Esq: RA in the Holy Land, Petrea & Syria" were both issued in 1849, following the issue of the rest of the work in 20 parts between January 1842 and the end of 1845; here the absence of both (the third title here replaced with a duplicate of the first title page) indicates that John Adlard completed the binding in the intervening years prior to the final issue of the third title and map. Despite the series title, Egypt and Nubia were issued in three volumes as a completely separate work.

Before he left for Egypt Roberts had discussed publication of his views with the engraver Finden, but on his return both Finden and the publisher John Murray, who was also approached, baulked at the risks involved in a publication of the size and grandeur envisaged. However, Francis Graham Moon - "a self-made man from a modest background" (ibid.) - accepted the challenge; it was "undoubtedly the most costly and lavish, and potentially risky, publishing enterprise that Moon had ever undertaken. Investing 50,000 in the project, he exhibited the drawings across England and by 1841 had raised an enormous subscription list for the lithographs, which were executed by Louis Haghe, one of London's leading lithographers" (ibid.). Roberts acknowledged that Haghe's work was hardly less important than his own, complimenting his "masterly vigour and boldness". The eminent historian of lithography, Michael Twyman, comments that the burdensome nature of tinted lithography - the plates "involving at least two stones, many three, and a few even more" - may even have prompted Haghe's early retirement as a lithographer. The Reverend George Croly (1780-1860), poet and well-known contributor to Blackwood's and The Literary Gazette, was engaged to edit the text from Roberts's journal. Despite the esteem in which the work was held by Roberts's contemporaries, unsold sets of the plates remained until December 1853, when the remaining sets were auctioned. The indication through the absence of the third title and map that the binding was executed in the late 1840s is thus particularly welcome, rather than the set being compiled from these later-issue remaindered plates. In a dramatic gesture, the lithographic stones for the original work were broken at the auction, so that the originals could never be reproduced.

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3 volumes, large folio (600 x 427 mm). Contemporary green morocco binding by John Adlard of London (his stamp to first front free endpaper), spines lettered in gilt, compartments and covers elaborately blocked in gilt, wide gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, gilt edges.


Tinted lithograph portrait of Roberts by C. Baugniet, three tinted lithographed vignette title pages (one of which is duplicated, see below), and 120 tinted lithographed plates, each with guards.


Bindings in fine condition; some light foxing or finger-soiling (mostly marginal) but generally clean. An exceptionally handsome copy.


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